Amy Corston – Technical Administrator, Opus International Consultants Ltd

Chloe Civil, Ultimit/Women in Infrastructure

When Amy Corston left school she had dreams of becoming a veterinary nurse – but her Dad had other ideas. Amy laughs, “He told me I needed to get a ‘real job’ and made me apply for a technical administration role with Opus.”

Fast forward three years and Amy wouldn’t change a thing. As well as admin duties, she now also works as a Survey Technician and helps manage a traffic project for Whakatane District Council.

“My job is awesome – I love it,” Amy says. “Every day is different. One day I could be in the office and the next I could be out on a huge project site or in the bush in the middle of nowhere.”

Amy continues, “My office days involve a mixture of admin and data analysis, and on my field days I work with the licenced cadastral surveyors to help them collect data. This involves taking laser measurements, shooting the laser onto the staff which the surveyor is holding. When you put all of the measurements together you can see the layout and lie of the land. It requires a lot of precision. I’m a bit of a perfectionist so this type of work is perfect for me.”

Moving into a technical role has been a huge opportunity for Amy, and she is relishing the challenge. “I’ve been given the chance to run my own project, which is pretty cool,” she says. “Whakatane District Council has a speed indicator device on a trailer which records road traffic volume/speed and the types of vehicles. I’m responsible for determining which locations to put the trailer in, moving and setting it up, collecting and analysing the data, and all of the reporting. The project is a big responsibility and quite high profile. A lot of people – the council, Opus, and all of the local contracting companies in the area – are relying on the data so it needs to be timely, relevant and accurate. There’s no room for mistakes.”

Amy is working towards a National Certificate in Surveying (Assistant) Level 3, which will provide formal recognition of her skills and knowledge. “The qualification content is very relevant to my day to day work, and a lot of my assessments have been based on the Council traffic project,” Amy explains. “The qualification has been a useful way to consolidate everything I’ve learned so far.”

One thing which has surprised Amy is how much she enjoys working with data. “Being where I am now is quite unexpected,” she explains. “I wasn’t really into maths at school, but using it in ‘real life’ is totally different. Seeing how data can benefit the end users is rewarding. I like the fact that I’m helping people out and making their life easier by providing useful and accurate information. I’d love to get more into the data side of things in future, maybe in infrastructure asset management.”

“Being a survey technician is a great career choice if you are interested in computers and have a good eye for detail, “ Amy says. “It is also ideal if you want to work outdoors rather than being stuck in an office all of the time. I think my hobbies and love of the outdoors definitely influenced my choice of career – even though it wasn’t a conscious decision to begin with. I’m a real outdoor girl and I race two and four wheelers at motocross, so all of my weekends are spent outdoors. Funnily enough, several people in the office also have the same hobby!”